Justice walked out of school with Brittany at her side.
“What are you going to do?” Justice had confided in Brittany about Max and his phone calls. The true that Max might be dangerous was a shock to Brittany.
“What am I supposed to do?”
“How about telling your mom?”
“I can’t tell her about this. I wasn’t supposed to give my number out.”
“Okay, but what’s more important? Getting in trouble or getting her to change your number?” Brittany made a good point. If she told her mom that some crazy guy was calling and texting her because she had made a mistake, her mom would likely get her phone number changed. But what was she to do about the fact that he also knew where she lived?
“No, I can’t tell her,” Justice said making up her mind. “I just have to hope that he’ll move on. I mean, how long can he keep this up?”
Justice had no idea just how long Max could keep it up. She arrived at the corner where she and Brittany would split up.
“Do you want me to walk you home?” Brittany asked.
“No, that’s okay. Then you would have to just turn around.”
“Okay, send me a email when you get home.” Justice no longer carried her phone with her and she kept it powered off. It was all she could do to prevent Max from contacting her.
They waved goodbye and went their separate ways. Justice liked the fact that Brittany was worried about her and if she had been thinking, she might have taken her up on her offer to walk her home. Because there hadn’t been much contact from Max outside of his calls and texts, Justice figured she was fine to walk home alone. She had managed to walk to school by herself and she had been out the day before.
On her walk home she been painfully aware of a car driving slowly behind her. The car never gets to close, but the appearance of the car was enough to spook her. She walked at a steady pace but was tempted to take off in a run.
Could it be Max following her?
What was she going to do if he got out and wanted to speak to her?
Justice turned and stopped into a store near her house. She made her way to the back and looked around as if she was going to buy something. What she was really doing was trying to give the car enough time to drive by. She wanted to be able to walk outside and not find the car anywhere in sight.
She didn’t know how ling she stayed in the store looking around, but when she looked out the front door she didn’t see the car. She let out a deep breath and stepped out of the store. She looked up and down the street and there was no sign of the car. Her shoulders sagged with relief.
Justice turned and headed down the street. She was about to pass an alley when someone grabbed her roughly by the arm and pulls her into the alley. Before she can scream, her mouth is covered and her feet are lifted up off of the ground. She was shoved into the trunk of a car and forced into total darkness.
The car rocked as whoever grabbed her climbed inside. She could hear the car start up and was thrown forward as the car began to move.
She didn’t know how long they drove for but was relieved when the car finally came to a stop. Her relief was quickly replaced with fear as the reality of what was going on rained down on her.
The trunk opened and Justice could see that it had gotten darker outside. A man hovered over the open trunk but she couldn’t see who he was. She opened her mouth to scream before everything went dark.
Justice’s head throbbed. She struggled to open her arms. When she finally got them open she was lying on her back on a hard floor in a small empty room. One single light cast a hollow glow on the room. She looked around and tried to sit up. pain shot to her head and she clutched it, crying out.
The door opened and Justice’s mouth fell open at the sight of the man stepping inside. There was a reason why his voice had sounded familiar when he called her. She knew him. That bad breakup that had her mom packing them up and moving? The breakup-ee was standing in front of her.
He had dated her mom for about two years before she broke up with him and moved him away. Why was Max contacting her? What did he want with her?
Max didn’t say anything as he walked over to her and kneeled down in front of her. Justice flinched away from him when he raised his hand and reached for her. His fingers grazed her head where it throbbed. She sat stone still while he looked at her. Max rose to his feet and walked out of the room, pulling the door closed behind him.
Justice got to her feet and ran to the door. She tried to pull it open but it wouldn’t budge. Locked. She sulked away from the door and cowered in the corner pulling her knees up to her chest.
What was going to happen to her? How long was he going to keep her locked up? She had so many questions running through her head. One of them being, why didn’t she let Brittany walk her home?
Angela stepped out of the car and found a young girl sitting on the steps to the apartment. She recognized her as one of the girls she saw with Justice. It took a moment before she saw an older woman standing on the porch.
“Can I help you?” Angela asked. The woman had a worried look on her face. The girl wore the same expression.
“Do you know where Justice is?’ the girl asked.
“Brittany don’t be rude,” the woman said calmly.
“Sorry,” Brittany apologized. “I’m Brittany, Justice’s friend.”
“Hi, Brittany. Justice should be inside.”
“I just wanted to be sure. I told her to email me when she got home but she didn’t,” Brittany said.
“I’m sorry. Brittany insisted that we come over here to make sure that Justice was okay.”
Angela didn’t understand why Brittany would be so worried. She invited them inside and headed into the apartment. The apartment was dark which wasn’t such a surprise if Justice was asleep, but Angela had gotten off work earlier and she expected to find Justice on the couch watching TV.
She turned on the light and made her way to Justice’s room, where she found it empty. Angela turned and walked back to the living room where Brittany and her mother waited.
“She not home.”
“Oh,” Brittany said softly.
“Brittany if you know something, you need to tell us,” her mother said.
“Justice gave her number to some kid she met online but it turned out to be some man, so she turned her phone off so he couldn’t contact her,” Brittany said in a rush.
“What was the man’s name?” Angela asked in a hushed tone.
“He told her his name was Max,” Brittany answered.
Angela quickly removed her phone and dialed a number. “Detective Horvath, this is Angela Novotny. He’s got here.” Angela turned away from Brittany’s bugged out eyes and her more wore a worried expression. She ended the call and rushed outside to wait on the porch. Brittany and her mother followed her.
“What’s going on,” Debbie asked.
“My ex, ” Angela started. “I started noticed that he had a little fascination with Justice. At first I thought it was harmless but I soon realized that it wasn’t, so I left him and moved me and Justice here to get him away from him.”
Angela was surprisingly calm. That was a lie. She wasn’t freaking out but she tried to remain calm. The important thing was to find Max and get Justice back. A thought hit her and she ran into the house and to Justice’s room. She grabbed her phone and powered it on.
By the time Angela made it back outside, Detective Horvath and several officers were pulling up to the house.
“There are over a hundred calls and texts on here from him,” she said shoving the phone into the detective’s hand.
Horvath went through the messages and then did what Angela was thinking of doing. He dialed the number and they waited with baited breath to see if Max would answer the phone.
Justice sat locked in that room for what felt like hours. Her stomach growled because she hadn’t eaten since lunch at school. Max didn’t come back to check on her. She had to use the bathroom but there was no where for her to go.
Was she ever going to get out?
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